Salmonella bacteria have been discovered in the world’s largest chocolate factory run by Swiss giant Barry Callebaut in the Belgian city of Wieze, the company said Thursday.
A company spokesman said production of Agence France-Presse had been halted at the factory, which produces liquid chocolate in wholesale batches for 73 confectionery customers.
“All products produced since the test have been blocked,” said spokesman Korneel Warlop.
“Barry Callebaut is currently contacting all customers who may have received contaminated products. Chocolate production in Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.”
Most of the products found to be contaminated are still at the site, he said.
But the company has contacted all its customers and asked not to ship any more products they have made with chocolate made since June 25 at this factory in Wieze, in Flanders, northwest of Brussels.
The Belgian food safety agency AFSCA has been informed and a spokesperson told AFP it had opened an investigation.
The Wieze factory does not make chocolates that are sold directly to consumers and the company says it has no reason to believe that contaminated goods made by customers have made it to store shelves.
The shock comes a few weeks after a crate of salmonella-contaminated chocolates at the Ferrero factory in Arlon in southern Belgium, which produces Kinder chocolates.
Belgian health authorities announced on June 17 that they had given the green light to restart the Italian giant’s factory for a three-month test period.
The Swiss group Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate products to many companies in the food industry, including industrial giants such as Hershey, Mondelez, Nestle or Unilever.
World number one in the industry, the annual turnover was 2.2 million tons in the fiscal year 2020-2021.
In the past fiscal year, the group, headquartered in Zurich, posted a net profit of 384.5 million Swiss francs ($402 million).
The group employs more than 13,000 people and has more than 60 production sites worldwide.